Tough market conditions and increasingly savvy consumers are just two reasons business leaders must constantly find new ways to innovate if they want their organisation to stay ahead.
Data holds the key to this innovation. Yet, even though companies are producing more data than ever before, very few are organised in such a way that enables them to use it efficiently.
Instead, the complexity and diversity of their data, coupled with the need to be compliant with ever-changing regulations, can lead to tensions between functions that can see innovation stifled altogether.
So, what are the blockers and how can business leaders overcome these to bring their organisations together to innovate at scale?
For most businesses, this means a central group is tasked with granting access, ensuring accuracy and overseeing how data is managed throughout the entire lifecycle.
This function ensures regulatory requirements are followed and customers’ personal data is protected, helping businesses to avoid the crippling fines that come with GDPR or DORA breaches and the loss in business value that comes with the subsequent PR fallout.
As gatekeepers, they’re responsible for allowing access to the data insights needed by other parts of the organisation to build products and platforms that can transform and futureproof the business.
In large organisations, this group often becomes a bottleneck, making it difficult to react in an agile way when it comes to innovation.
The traditional approach doesn’t allow you to scale at speed. It creates silos. It creates tension.
A federated data governance approach shares the policies and processes controlling an organisation’s data between the centralised and decentralised functions.
In a federated data governance model, your central group becomes an enabling team who set up defined rules that say this is what you can and can't do with data.
However, as they aren’t experts in domain-specific datasets, they then leave it up to the teams across the business to implement those rules.
Think of it like central government delegating to local authorities how best a law should be applied to their region because they are the ones who understand it best.
This approach allows local product teams to apply the central team’s standards into their own platforms, infrastructure and products in a way that works best for them. This in turn allows them to scale their processes locally without impacting other parts of the business.
This way you’re providing local teams with enough autonomy to govern their data in whatever way is best for them, while providing an automated and scalable set of global guidelines to ensure that everyone is still pulling in the same direction.
Federated data governance is about empowering your people to make the right decisions, it’s about implementing the right controls to get timely access to data to build products that will disrupt the market and delight users.
It's about improving regulatory compliance, especially in heavily regulated industries such as finance or utilities where requirements are continuously evolving.
It’s about harnessing the power of computational governance to do the heavy lifting and replace the manual effort of checking and validating data.
A federated approach allows organisations to easily automate and scale changes to data governance policies across the business while also allowing teams the freedom to modify how they work to meet any new demands.
For companies still using a traditional approach to data governance, there’s a real risk of getting stuck in the old world and left behind.
By democratising data access throughout your organisation, you’re unlocking value and empowering your people to make better decisions.
Federated data governance is a big topic so, while it might not be something you’re going to start doing tomorrow, today is a good time to start thinking about how it can transform your business.
Ask yourself what problems your business needs to solve, take a look at your current approach to data and consider what’s holding you back. Think about how cross-functional collaboration could help you to work in a more agile way and ask for input from your engineering teams about how data policies and processes could be implemented differently to empower how they work.
The real challenge often lies in shifting the current culture and mindset so it’s important to get across the message that these new ways of working will make life easier for everyone in the organisation.
Transformation can be tough, but working in a federated way will ultimately build trust within business functions allowing collaboration without friction and innovation at scale.
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